Mexico: At least 21 persons were killed in a battle between Mexican police officers and cartel gunmen in northeastern Mexico, according to the state government of Coahuila.
Four police officers, two civilians, and 13 suspected cartel members were among the dead Saturday. Authorities had initially said that 14 people were dead. Another six people were injured.
In a fresh sign of the deteriorating security around the country, the assault started at around noon on Saturday, the eve of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador’s first anniversary in office. Polls show Mexicans regard the failure to curb violence as the greatest weakness of the generally popular leftist leader.
Armed gunmen stormed Villa Union, a town near the Texas border with Coahuila state, on Saturday and attacked local government offices, including that of the mayor. Security forces responded, and 10 gunmen and four policemen were killed during the resulting shootout in the village. Seven additional cartel members were killed by security forces after the attackers fled.
The gunmen unleashed a furious battle at the town hall, peppering the facade with bullets. Terrified residents shut themselves in their homes as the pop-pop-pop of gunfire filled the air, according to local news reports and video. The attackers fled after about 90 minutes, authorities said.
It was not immediately clear why the town was targeted. Coahuila was ravaged by attacks by the Zetas in the early part of this decade, but has not been among Mexico’s most violent states more recently.
The clash came as Mexico is trying to prevent Trump from carrying out his pledge to designate the country’s drug cartels as terrorist groups.
The attack will likely fuel Trump’s argument for categorizing drug cartels as “foreign terrorist organizations,” just as groups like al-Qaeda, ISIS, and Boko Haram are classified.